Cover4Caravans » Resources

New Forest CAMC Centenary Site Review

This review is based on our visit during the half-term week at the end of May 2018 when we stayed for one week. The site is open from March until October and is for club members only, however you can join on arrival. They don’t accept tents.

Firstly, as always, getting there. We followed the route recommended by the club, leaving the M27 at junction 1 and joining the A35 after Lyndhurst. It’s straightforward enough with no country lanes to worry about although do be prepared to queue through Lyndhurst in busier times. Check out our Site Arrival video below.

The site is a large one with 275 pitches but there is plenty of room to queue up during busy periods and late night arrivals are accommodated as are day visitors to the site with two parking areas. The reception area is very well stocked with both food and non-food items. Newspapers can be ordered too. In the same block but around the side is the Information room with an impressive range of leaflets for local attractions alongside folders compiled with menus for hostelries, walking routes and caravan service engineers should the need arise. It is one of the best I have seen and clearly a lot of work has gone into it.

Moving on to the site itself, pitches are divided into four areas, the first of which is ‘Mustang’ immediately to the right after the barriers and this is where we were pitched. It has a combination of grass and hardstanding pitches with a service point and a path through to one of the two facilities blocks. Being the furthest from the children’s play area it is probably the quietest part of the site.

Talking of facilities, the block we used (Block B) was always clean and tidy and, sporting the club’s new colours, has recently been refurbished. The shower cubicles seemed bigger than on some club sites but water pressure could have been better. Block A was laid out similarly and looked equally well kept.

Washers and driers are available and there is a wash-up area too in both blocks. The usual club service points (Water/waste water/loo emptying/ rubbish & recycling) are dotted around the site and strategically placed paths mean they are never far away. Motorhome Waste Points are located adjacent to both facilities blocks and there is a dog/bike wash too. Talking of dogs a fenced dog walking area runs next to the site entrance road.

In the north western corner of the site is the children’s play area, playing field, a larger dog exercise area and a developing wildlife sanctuary too. Check out the Site plan here.

For those that like to keep in touch with the outside world, we managed to pick up a plethora of TV channels without the help of our booster, however there are aerial hook up points on the EHU bollards. The club’s WiFi is available and we found it fine for general surfing, social media and email but don’t expect the sort of speeds you may be used to at home – you’ll struggle with streaming TV and film services. Mobile wise, Vodafone and O2 are ok, others are very weak. There is a payphone on site but it does not accept incoming calls.

There’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy whilst you’re staying in the New Forest. We barely scratched the surface during our week there but here’s what we got up to, all of which I’d recommend:

Christchurch Quay at the confluence of Rivers’ Avon & Stour is a delightful and charming place for a stroll along the riverside perhaps taking tea in one of the many tea rooms. Take in a river cruise perhaps or even hire your own motorboat. There’s a great water based kids play area that’s sure to keep the little ones entertained.

Smell the money in the waterside Priory Quays development then had into town along the riverbank by the priory.

A drive to the coast emerging at Barton-on-sea will not disappoint with the opportunity to stretch the legs along the coastal walk for the more energetic. Keyhaven was one of our stopping off points and is a gateway to Hurst Castle.  You can catch a ferry from the harbour or walk along the shingle spit.

A little further on is bustling Lymington. Join in those crabbing on the quayside or take a day trip over to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.

Buckler’s Hard (https://www.bucklershard.co.uk/) near Beaulieu is well worth at least a morning or afternoon of your time. an 18th century village where Nelson’s warships were once built. Learn the story in the museum and then check out the shipwright’s cottage and the tiny chapel before taking in the lovely view of the Beaulieu River from the old launchways. There’s also the option of a 30 minute river cruise which I’m told is excellent. A café by the entrance and a bar in the village will keep you fed and watered but you could always bring your own picnic.

Beaulieu village is a couple of miles away via the riverside walkway and home to the Beaulieu Estate where you’ll find the National Motor Museum including the World of Top Gear. There’s also the mansion, Abbey and extensive gardens – definitely on our list for next time.

Place’s to visit under the stewardship of the National Trust include Northern Commons and Corfe Castle a little further afield whilst English Heritage can offer the aforementioned Hurst Castle and Netley Abbey amongst others.

The excellent New Forest Essential Guide can be found in many information stands or here  and is a great resource for the newcomer to the area with maps, walks, things to do and what’s on listings as well.

After a days busy sightseeing you’re going to need to refuel. As well as the on site shop there’s the Co-Op in Bransgore village around three miles away. Easily found down the A35 towards Christchurch is a Sainsbury’s and a little further on an Aldi and Lidl.

For dining out options, a Toby carvery can also be found on the A35 and is handy to for fuelling up on their buffet breakfast before a day out. The village of Bransgore offers two pubs – The Crown  where both the real ale and food was very well received – or the Three Tuns and The Carpenters Arms which we didn’t sadly get to try. Takeaways are limited to the chippy but a chip van does visit the site on Saturday evenings.

For full details of the site click here.

Site Arrival Video

 

Caravanning in France: don’t break the law!

If you are heading off to France and are new to driving abroad, the good news is that it is one of the best countries in the European Union for easy driving conditions and touring caravan facilities.

However, just like any individual country, it has its own laws and regulations that need to be complied with.

In what follows, some of the more important of those will be touched on but don’t let this give the impression that driving in France is an obstacle! Most people, even those in the UK, agree that it is an infinitely more pleasurable experience than driving in Britain.

Warning triangles

These must be erected in the road behind your vehicle if it has broken down and is on the hard shoulder.

Note that even if it is off the road and on the hard shoulder, you must still erect your warning triangle behind it to indicate to other approaching drivers that a potential hazard is ahead.

If visibility approaching your stopped vehicle is good, the triangle must be approximately 30 metres behind it and visible to approaching vehicles though not blocking the carriageway. If visibility is obstructed by a bend, you must place your warning triangle on the other side of the bend so that drivers know there may be an obstacle as they go around the corner.

Fluorescent jackets

At the time of writing, you must carry a fluorescent jacket for the driver.

If your vehicle breaks down and is partly or fully off the road, passengers must exit the vehicle and stand a safe distance away from it whilst keeping well back from the road. The driver must wear a fluorescent yellow jacket once they leave the vehicle and it might be highly advisable for the passengers to do likewise.

Evidence of insurance

You may need some evidence on you of appropriate insurance and/or tourer insurance.

The French police are typically charming but also often far less tolerant of “attitude” from people, French or foreign, than their UK counterparts. So, avoid arguing about what is the norm in the UK or whether or not what they’re asking for makes sense.

If they ask to see evidence of your insurance, make sure you have it/show it.

Breathalyser kits

After what even French people will admit was an absolutely chaotic introduction, with the law apparently contradicting itself, the current position is at best unclear.

At the time of writing, it is a requirement that you carry one of these in your vehicle. Given that should you use that one, you will immediately technically be breaking the law, that means in effect you need two.

In practice, the French authorities are not enforcing the law but even so, given that these kits are a trivial price, it might be prudent to make sure you have two with you.

Spare bulbs

You must carry a full set of replacement bulbs for your vehicle. Although once widely ignored, the French police are now much more inclined to pull vehicles up in situations where they appear to have defective lighting.

Your driving documents

By law in France, all drivers must carry their driving licence and what is effectively their registration document, with them at all times.

By contrast, in the UK, the general advice remains not to carry your registration document with you in the car.

For the duration of your trip to France, it might be sensible to make sure that you do have your driving licence and registration certificate with you at all times.

GB plates

There must be some indication on your vehicle as to its country of origin. For the United Kingdom, that is a GB sticker.

Note that however fashionable and politically correct it may be at home, in stressful situations when they’re making a list of faults, the Gendarmes may be intolerant of localised plates such as “Ecosse”, “Cymru” or “Yorkshire” (etc.). They will typically mean nothing to them and your loved origin plate might become another tick in a “not conforming” box – something you could do without.

This is only a subset of the requirements for driving and towing a caravan in France. It will be advisable to research the full details, as they relate to your situation, on a reputable site.

Spruce up your static home – on a budget

Most owners love their static homes. It’s as simple as that.

However, it can sometimes come as a little shock to look around and realise that, well, overall it’s looking a little “tired and jaded” inside. That realisation can sometimes dawn due to a casual remark from a visitor or when you are in another static home and have started to compare it to yours.

If you decide to spruce up your static though, don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need a vast budget to do so. A few basic things can change its ambience entirely.

Don’t forget if you are upgrading, it might be worth checking the value cover levels of your static caravan insurance to ensure that they’re still adequate.

New cushions and upholstery

You don’t need to rush to a designer boutique in order to secure some very good quality and highly attractive slip-on upholstery. The same is true for cushions, both in terms of upholstery and their internals.

Changing your colour scheme and replacing those scrunched-up cushions can make an immediate and major positive impact on your surroundings.

Flooring

Just normal footfall traffic over time can start to make any flooring look as though it needs resuscitation.

The really good news here is that things such as lino floor tiles (and similar) are now really very affordable and they’re typically far better quality than those available just a few years ago. It’s perhaps worth spending a little more than the absolute minimum here in order to get more durable flooring if you can afford to do so but even if you do, the costs are not likely to be prohibitive.

Decorative items

Tastes and fashions in decorative items change over time. True, most of us probably can’t afford to follow fashion to the extent that we change all our decorative possessions every other season but even so, it might be time for a new look.

Whatever your tastes are, modest decorative items are usually available for relatively small amounts of money from retailers and perhaps even less from boot sales etc. They can make a huge difference to how your room looks. Don’t forget, you may be able to sell the old ones to contribute towards the cost of replacement.

Lighting

Modern LED systems are not only highly energy-efficient but today are also often set in mountings in stunningly attractive styles.

Replacing those old lights and suspensions and replacing them with more up-to-date versions will make an immediate positive impact on your décor.

In passing, some of those old annoying features of LED lighting, such as waiting for several minutes after switching on for them to “warm up” and deliver light, are now the stuff of history. The modern ones are superb and it’s worth checking them out.

Bathrooms

It’s possible for shower rooms and bathrooms to also start to suddenly look very dated.

In reality, completely ripping out your existing shower and replacing it with state-of-the-art systems is likely to be expensive.

However, by simply adding in a few extras such as towel racks, dispensers and stylish WC seats, you can transform the look and feel of this area for relatively small sums.

Summary

The realisation that the internals of your static home are looking rather “yesterday” can be painful. However, with a little effort, some ingenuity and not a lot of money, you may be able to do something about that – and relatively quickly.

Why should you compare caravan insurance?

When asked the question, “why should you compare caravan insurance”, most people respond by saying something relating to the opportunities for saving money.

However, as we at Cover4Caravans like to point out, there are a number of other reasons why these exercises are typically highly advisable.

The cost factor

One of the things that it is sometimes intuitively difficult to grasp about caravan insurance is that it isn’t necessarily advisable to become exclusively focused on the cost of a policy.

For many people, that advice naturally runs a little against the grain. We live in a society where cost containment is, for the vast majority of people, a major daily imperative. Trying to suggest otherwise can sometimes be a challenge.

However, in the context of insurance, it’s extremely important to remember that the cost of a policy will be entirely irrelevant to you in a situation where you are considering making a claim. In such circumstances, your focus will be 100% on the nature of the cover the policy provides and the amount you may have paid for it won’t be a consideration.

All your focus would be on whether or not the problem is covered by the policy.

It therefore seems logical to conclude that you should be selecting your policy at the outset not based upon its price but on the cover and security it provides.

Comparing caravan insurance

The second tendency is for some to argue that caravan insurance reviews aren’t important because broadly speaking all caravan insurance is more or less the same.

That sentiment is simply incorrect.

Caravan insurance policies can vary significantly from one to another. There are many ways this can be illustrated but perhaps one well-known example is that relating to awnings.

Some policies may not cover them at all. Others may do so but only for certain specific types. Yet other policies may cover awnings in terms of the general category but only if you meet certain usage conditions when out and about in your caravan.

Essentially the key message is – what you are getting for your money may differ considerably from one insurance provider to another.

Better the devil you know

Caravan insurance reviews are important for another reason.

Insurance providers regularly change what they call their “cover propositions”. In other words, what their policies cover and their associated terms and conditions can change from one year to another as they bring out new products.

It therefore only makes sense, assuming you are interested in maintaining the most appropriate cover possible for your particular caravan, to check the market on a regular basis to see what’s out there (we can do that on your behalf at Cover4Caravans, using our “get a quote” button). It’s perfectly possible that reasonable as your existing policy is, there may now be more suitable ones available.

Caravan insurance reviews allow you to compare your existing degree of protection against perhaps more up-to-date offerings in the marketplace.

It’s perfectly possible that your existing policy is still the most suitable fit for your current situation. However, it might be better to know that rather than just to assume it.

Pricing

Of course, price cannot be entirely excluded from caravan insurance reviews and nor should it be.

It is though important to keep it in context and to consider some of the above issues at the same time.

Above all, it is advisable to conduct periodic caravan insurance reviews in order to provide you with peace of mind that you have the most appropriate cover at the a cost-effective price.

Why we love having our dogs on holiday

In a sense, the above title is a case of stating the obvious for most dog owners!

From our own customer surveys, here at Cover4Caravans, we know only too well that most people want to have their pooch with them when they are out and about on holiday. However, that sort of begs the question as to why that is the case.

In what follows below, we’ll explore some of the more obvious explanations that we’ve heard from our customers over time.

A member of the family

Most owners don’t regard their dog as a commodity or possession. A dog is a living breathing thing and its relationship with human beings is a phenomenal one, having evolved so far back in pre-history that its origins are unclear.

What is certain is that the old saying that “a dog is part of the family” is more than just a platitude. For many people, leaving their dog behind in kennels would be somewhere between highly undesirable and unthinkable.

In passing, this isn’t just a UK phenomenon either!

Security

Although perhaps not exactly a positive reason, it’s also a fact that many people like having their dog with them for reasons of security and personal comfort.

It is widely accepted that, for example, nothing puts burglars off faster than a dog being on a targeted premises. Even when we are touring around, having a dog present can give that little bit of extra companionship, peace of mind and reassurance.

Playtime

Anyone who has ever seen a dog enjoying itself in the open fields or on a beach will appreciate their sheer exuberance at being out in nature. Their enjoyment is infectious so it can also add to the pleasure of your outside life too.

It’s also a fact that, although it is said slightly “tongue-in-cheek”, a dog is often a real imperative in terms of forcing us to get out and take some exercise!

Some admin

Of course, fantastic as dogs are, if you are planning to take them on holiday with you there are a few points you will need to consider:

  • some touring caravan insurance may have certain conditions and restrictions relating to having pets aboard. For example, it’s possible that a policy might stipulate that such a pet cannot be confined inside the caravan if left alone;
  • make sure that the site you are planning to use will accept pets. In the UK today many sites are pet-friendly and have excellent facilities. Most will offer your dog a warm welcome.

Even so, some don’t – and that’s something you’ll want to know in advance so you can avoid them, rather than discovering it for the first time when you arrive. It’s always worth confirming beforehand;

  • don’t forget that some attractions, country parks and even beaches, ban dogs totally or at least during the peak tourist season. Do some research about your chosen destination to make sure that there are plenty of places locally where you can take your dog for exercise;
  • however well behaved your dog is, in the relatively confined spaces of a touring caravan, they may be a little more inclined to misbehave and jump around than normal. Make sure that your upholstery is appropriately protected and be careful with any breakables.

Above all though, have fun with man’s best friend on holiday!

Further reading: Guide to caravanning with pets